Our Work

Planning for the Future while Respecting the Past

  • Princeton University
Client Type
  • Higher Education

Princeton, NJ

Practice Areas
  • Transformative Real Estate

Princeton University

For more than 15 years, U3 has supported the growth of Princeton’s campus.


Princeton’s beautiful and inviting campus is a central part of the school’s identity and a driving force in student life. For more than 15 years, the nation’s top University has entrusted U3 Advisors to guide and support the expansion of their historic campus while maintaining the human scale that helps the school nurture a sense of community, invite engagement, and foster communication.

Our ongoing collaboration began in 2005 when Princeton asked U3 Advisors to help develop and implement their vision for a 10-year campus plan. U3 worked with University leaders to select the designers and consultants who could best realize their plan. We prepared and released an RFP that clearly conveyed Princeton’s vision for their campus, established their core planning principles, and identified major challenges. U3 also helped Princeton evaluate the proposals, interview candidates, select a team, negotiate the contract, and develop a budget for the campus plan.

To facilitate this new growth, U3 completed an assessment of all of the University’s real estate holdings to determine the most effective use for each property. By analyzing transaction history, investment returns, development capacity, and political considerations, U3 was able to formulate recommended strategies that were adopted by the Trustees and used to guide real estate decision-making. U3 updated and expanded this real estate portfolio analysis in 2012. Additionally, U3 has advised Princeton on disposition and cost-reduction strategies for its Forrestal Lands, a large 1,130-acre area containing mixed-use development as well as undeveloped and protected land.


Help the nation’s top University responsibly expand their historic campus.


Exhaustive data collection and application, work with the University to clearly communicate their mission and goals, thoughtful partnerships.


Recommendations and development strategies for two campus master plans that have informed Princeton’s growth since 2005 and will continue to guide decision making for decades.


2018, SCUP Merit for Excellence in Planning for an Existing Campus
Princeton Campus Plan

As part of the 2005 campus plan, U3 also prepared a master plan for Princeton’s off-campus housing program. Our work included an assessment of housing demand versus inventory, a review of housing “best practices,” and an analysis of how to most effectively leverage Princeton’s real estate holdings to increase housing capacity. Princeton completed the implementation of the housing plan in 2015 with the opening of Lakeside Apartments, which houses up to 715 graduate students.

To balance their responsibility as stewards of their historic campus with their need to accommodate growth, Princeton launched an even more comprehensive campus planning process in 2014. This new ten-year plan, developed in the context of a thirty-year period, considered all of the University’s holdings – including those beyond the central campus. As Princeton’s real estate advisor, U3 worked with the selected design team for the 2016-2026 Campus Framework Plan, which was formulated concurrently with the University’s Strategic Plan and capital budget to give Princeton the flexibility to evolve over time while strengthening its identity.

Using data to drive decision making, U3’s scope of work included regional economic analysis, a feasibility study of mixed-use developments at the campus edge, and an investigation of how the local housing market impacts Princeton employees and graduate students. U3 conducted an intensive GIS-based real estate and demographic scan to map and analyze housing supply and demand, cost burdens, housing value, and new developments. Using this information, we recommended the development of additional graduate student housing, which will be built during the first phase of the planned “Lake Campus.”

Located on University land between Lake Carnegie and Route 1, the Lake Campus is envisioned as a vibrant extension of the main campus, designed to support new academic programs, innovation initiatives, and administrative needs. The new housing, planned to accommodate 500 graduate students, will be developed in partnership with a private developer who will also serve as owner and operator. U3 helped Princeton select and structure their relationship with the University. The project will be completed in 2022.

Looking to the future, Princeton also envisions a new hotel and conference center on the Lake Campus. To support their vision, U3 conducted an extensive hotel demand analysis, which included a study of comparative developments, operating costs, and projected demand. Currently, the hotel is planned for a later phase of the development on the Lake Campus.

Working to both enhance the University’s historic core and plan for a future campus, U3 has helped Princeton ensure their physical environment continues to align with its global legacy as a leader in higher education.